Today, most teen bullying happens digitally, on texting apps and social media platforms. If you have a teen who’s the new kid in school, he or she might know this truth all too well. It’s easy for teens to feel alienated after they start school in a whole new place, and other kids can use those nerves as fuel for teasing, harassing, or otherwise bullying your child online.
What is cyberbullying, exactly? For the non-tech-savvy parent, it may be hard to comprehend how abuse online could leave lasting damage on a teen’s psyche. However, hurtful messages, comments, and photographs posted online not only hurt when they’re posted — they can harm your child every time he or she, or someone else, views them. And since most teens have regular access to the internet via smartphones and home computers, abuse that happens online follows them everywhere.
In cyberbullying, social dynamics that are considered typical to middle schools and high schools become amplified. Entire cliques of friends may join up to make a Facebook page mocking a vulnerable teen, and risque photos sent to a crush can become public online. Outside the purview of parents and teachers and with the protection of anonymity, teens are emboldened of behave in ways they wouldn’t in the real world.
If your teen has just started school in a new city, keep an eye out for signs of cyberbullying. Your child will be eager to fit in at this vulnerable time, making him or her less likely to turn to parents when there’s a problem with classmates. Here’s what to look for:
If your teen is being cyberbullied at his or her new school, he or she will need your support getting through it. The first thing to do is help your teen block bullies on various online accounts or delete certain accounts entirely. Depending on the severity of the behavior, you may want to take screenshots as evidence first. If the website or app has a policy that bans harassment, reporting bullying could get the user banned. If the bullying involved sexual behavior, such as sharing explicit photographs, it might be appropriate to report them to the police.
Once the immediate threat has been quelled, it’s time to focus on supporting your teen. You want your teen to feel welcome and safe in his or her new school, but that can’t happen as long as your teen is being intimidated and abused online.
First, emphasize to your child that he or she is not to blame for the bullying. Bullies choose the most vulnerable people to be their targets, and as the new kid at school, your teen was an easy choice. That doesn’t mean your teen can’t make friends and find his or her place in a new community.
Next, alert teachers and administrators to their students’ online activities. While sometimes bullying is limited to the virtual realm, other times cyberbullying is paired with in-person abuse. Ask that trusted school staff monitor for signs that your teen is experiencing bullying at school.
Finally, make sure your home is a safe space for your teen to retreat. The most difficult part of cyberbullying is that you can’t escape it, even at home. Make sure there are plenty of fun things to do at home, so your teen isn’t spending all his or her time online. Connect over shared meals and fun family activities that provide a positive outlet for your child. Turn your child’s room into a relaxing sanctuary with all his or her favorite decorations and books, but keep technology out of the bedroom as much as is reasonable. Encourage your teen to stay in touch with his or her old friends — a support system is crucial when it comes to coping with the emotional challenges of bullying.
Switching schools should be a fun time for your teen — a chance to try on a new identity, make new friends, and expand his or her horizons. The last thing you want is for cyberbullying to tarnish that experience. Keep the conversation open, so you know how your child is adjusting to his or her new home.
Image via Pixaba
Guest Blog Post by Laura Pearson. Laura is the co-creator of Edutude.net. She believes that every student has great potential, and wants to help bright young minds that don’t feel engaged in the traditional classroom setting.
Things Laura Loves Doing:
Reading | Writing | Advocating for Education
Ask Laura About:
Helping students and parents overcome educational obstacles (and she's not bad at trivia!)
Laura's Act of Kindness:
To give somebody the gift of a book that complements their interest and/or personality
You can bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to your school site next year! Simply share the 21 Day Kindness Kickstarter link (http://kck.st/2osw2tw) with your community members and ask them to dedicate the program to your school! Suggestions of people you can send the link to are, a group of local businesses in your area, parents, grandparents, caring community members, sports teams, chamber of commerce, 4-H Chapters, etc.
We want to help schools develop a safe school environment for today's youth. An environment that emphasizes respect for others, promotes responsible decisions, creates a positive atmosphere, develops empathy, strengthens the school community and increases positive behaviors.
The mission of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge is to empower youth to change their world with kindness. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge teaches today’s youth to be effective, caring and proactive leaders. Our vision is to bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge program to 250 schools during the 2017-18 school year – reaching more than 175,000 students and inspiring more than 2.5 million Acts of Kindness!
Check it out & share our Kickstarter Campaign!
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge program encourages and teaches participants how to be intentional about spreading kindness. In our school-wide program, students, teachers, and staff are asked to write down the five acts of kindness they will do each day during their 21 Day Kindness Challenge. When Julissa Arangure, from Shari’s Berries Community Outreach team, contacted us about their Random Acts of Kindness Generator - we knew we had to share it! It is an awesome tool that anyone can use!
The Shari’s Berries Random Acts of Kindness Generator allows you to choose the type of person or place that you would like to carry out your act of kindness. The options are: At Work, To Strangers, With Kids, and Friends/Family. You simply click on the type of person or place option and it generates a random act of kindness suggestion for you. Keep clicking on the type of person or place and the act of kindness changes.
A few of our favorite acts of kindness from the Random Acts of Kindness Generator:
Let us know which acts of kindness you’ve done from Shari’s Berries Random Acts of Kindness Generator. You can post comments and pictures below or on our Facebook page.
Back in 2014, our founder, Justina Bryant, spoke from the heart as she wrote this letter to the editor. Bryant challenged her entire community to come together and teach our youth about values, character, kindness, and acceptance. We hope her words inspire you to reach out to someone in need.
In the wake of the recent suicides of two Aptos High teens and the 15-year-old girl from Los Gatos; it is clear our children are in trouble. Bullying on school campuses is so rampant most of the children don’t even know they are doing it. Our teachers are required to fill their days with strict academic guidelines which in turn leaves little to no time, to teach about character development.
Hello, 21 Day Kindness Challenge Followers and anyone else reading this…
My life’s work is to empower today’s youth to change their world with kindness. I’ve developed a program for grades k-12 called the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. It has been a labor of love for over two years. The program helps school's get ahead of the bullying situation by learning about kindness. The program encourages everyone on campus to intentionally do 5 acts of kindness every day for 21 school days.
Back in 2014, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, about how our youth need our help. In the wake of local teens that had taken their lives, I challenged our community to do what they can to help our youth. I realized that I, too, needed to do something to help. Hence, I created the 21 Day Kindness Challenge.
Today, my heart is saddened yet again as I hear about a new "game" on the app Snapchat. A recent article talks about how young people are using Snapchat to make fun of other people. For those of you who do not know, Snapchat is an app that delivers a quick snapshot of messages - this message can be posted to your story or sent directly to a particular person. When a person posts to their "story" (page), the post stays for 24 hours. Anyone and everyone can see this post. Snapchat’s can also be sent to a person directly. In this case, the post disappears as soon as the person views it. A popular thing to do is to take a screenshot of the chat and re-post.
According to the article, two teens have taken their lives because of this so-called ‘game.' Rachaele Hambleton, a blogger of Part-time Working Mummy in Devon, U.K. commended her daughter for not playing along. Hambelton explains, the game, “consists of sending someone the letter 'X.' That person then sends you back a name of someone you all know... you then write the most horrific things you can think of about that person - about their weight, their appearance, their personality... the more horrid the comments, the better. It then gets posted anonymously, but publicly, upon Snapchat stories for everyone to see and share.”
I would like to challenge the 21 Day Kindness Challenge community to help put a STOP to this Snapchat “game” by spreading kindness via Snapchat. We have created our own "game" that promotes kindness. If you, your students, or kids are on Snapchat, please ask them to play along. See the image below on how to play:
Share this with as many people as you can. Together we can do great things!!
Founder & President of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, Inc.
My Snapchat Name: justinabryant7
“You know kids can change the world!”
Our video pick for February will not only melt your heart, but it will inspire you to spread kindness.
Ms. Norenberg and her class call themselves the ‘kindness squad.' After completing the 21 Day Kindness Challenge elementary program, Ms. Norenberg's class is secretly doing acts of kindness for others in their community. Check out this video to find out what Ms. Norenberg and her students are doing to change the world.
Last week we shared exciting news with you about our corporate partnership program, which pairs businesses with schools to implement the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. Since then we’ve had a few questions from Kindness Coaches on how to reach out to their local businesses for smaller sponsorships and financial help in order to bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to their schools. Even though our program is extremely cost effective - the 21 Day Kindness Challenge costs about $1/student - we understand that budgets are very limited and in many cases already set for the school year. Some schools want to bring the program this spring and don’t want to wait until new budgets are passed to do so.
We have found that local businesses, small organizations (such as Lions clubs, Elks Clubs, Rotary Groups, Chamber of Commerces, etc.) and even parents and/or parent groups like your PTA are extremely interested in helping to pay for the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. It isn’t a difficult “ask” from them, but it is helpful to have tools in place to help! Remember, we are always here to help you brainstorm ideas, provide templates, and we can customize an estimate just for your school. Our goal is to spread kindness by bringing the Kindness Challenge to every school that wants to participate!
We have written this letter for our interested Kindness Coaches. We are pleased to share it with you as well! All you need to do is replace the information in ALL CAPS with your personal information. Everything else is ready to go for you! We recommend printing this on your school letterhead or including your school logo whenever possible.
Dear LOCAL FUNDER (this can be a local organization, business, parent group, etc):
OUR SCHOOL wants to participate in the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, a program that empowers students to change their world through kindness. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge encourages everyone on our campus to do 5 acts of kindness every day for 21 school days. The effect is contagious! Studies have shown that teaching kindness at school makes a difference for everyone with the following benefits:
We are writing to request your help in bringing the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to OUR SCHOOL. Although the program is very cost-efficient - it only costs about $1/student - we are seeking local support and funding. We respectfully ask for ($amount needed) from LOCAL FUNDER. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge provides all of the materials, curriculum, training and support that we need to run the program - all we need to do is see how many acts of kindness we can do in 21 days. We are up for the Challenge!
We would be happy to recognize your support by writing press releases to our local media, and listing your name on our school website. The 21 Day Kindness Challenge organization will also be happy to list you among their amazing Kindness Champions on their website. Most importantly, you will know that you are building a better community for all of us by creating a positive climate on our school campus. You can find out more information about the 21 Day Kindness Challenge programs at 21daykindnesschallenge.org.
Thank you in advance for your support. I look forward to hearing back from you! I can be reached at YOUR EMAIL HERE or by phone PHONE NUMBER.
We have been asking students and teachers who have participated in the 21 Day Kindness Challenge, what kindness means to them. Their answers are heartwarming, and a wonderful reminder of how teaching kindness really can change our world. Read on, and be inspired! #bringkindnesstoyourcampus
“It’s the most important part of being human. It makes people feel good" - Nate, 8th grade
"People being nice and helping others" - Riley, 6th grade
"Accepting people and caring for them no matter your differences" - Charlie, Kindness Coach
"Being nice and loving people" - Claire, Pre-K
"Being nice" - Mary, 2nd grade
"My Mom" - Simon, 8th grade
“Kindness means going out of your way to make others feel good, to do more for others than others do for you, and to make someone smile” - Trenten, 8th grade
"Doing kind things for one another" - Jackson, 5th grade
"It means being nice and respectful” - Nathan 3rd Grade
"Kindness means caring for other people, animals and the environment. It means considering how our actions and words affect others and being thoughtful and sensitive to their needs" - Rachel, High School Counselor
“Compassion and inclusion” - Chloe, 6th grade
“Generosity and inclusion” - Bret, 8th grade
"Kindness means safety and happiness" - Ellie, 5th grade
"It means respecting others" - Luke, 3rd grade
“Listening and being nice” - Clark, Pre-K
"Kindness is truly caring about someone's or something's well being" - Rosie, Special Ed Teacher
"Kindness should be our lives" - Siena, 4th grade
We want to know what kindness means to you. The 21st person to respond will receive a special kindness treat from us. Please reply below or send us an email.
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge is proud to announce the launch of its Corporate Partners Program, which pairs businesses with schools to implement the 21 Day Kindness Challenge.
The corporate partnership program provides companies with the opportunity to make a difference in the communities where they are located and where their employees live. The program offers many partnership benefits, including the opportunity to select schools to participate in the 21 Day Kindness Challenge program. Companies receive branding opportunities on all the materials included with the program for those schools.
“We are very excited about our latest venture,” says Justina Bryant, Founder and President of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. “We often get requests by corporations to launch a corporate kindness challenge. This is a great opportunity for corporations to raise awareness about kindness within their company as well as to make an impact for students in their local schools. Not only will they be able to have the opportunity to receive outstanding marketing benefits, they will make a difference for schools in their area, and they can engage their employees in selecting the schools. Plus, they can be first to pilot our Corporate Kindness Challenge when we launch it!”
The 21 Day Kindness Challenge is committed to helping as many schools as want the program as possible. We are constantly seeking new and cutting edge strategies to help students and teachers bring the 21 Day Kindness Challenge to their campus. Please email us or leave a comment below if you know of a company that would be interested in joining our partnership!
Gretchen Rubin, blockbuster New York Times bestselling author of Happier at Home and the Happiness Project, has discovered four personality types to help us understand how to work and motivate ourselves and others. With the start of 2017, we empower you with the opportunity to develop new personal habits as well as help your students create new healthy habits! We hope our January 2017 video pick inspires you to help your students develop new positive habits.
The four personality types are:
Make a list of your students and think about how they respond to “rules.” Write beside their name which personality type you believe they have - note this can change over time. When you assign new projects to your students, look at your list and monitor the ones who need more motivation.
For the upholder types, give them a list of the items due and let them know when the final project is due. Allow them the autonomy for them to create their own timeline and check in with them every now and again.
For the questioner types, you can help them stay motivated by saying, “Here is the list of items that are due, you can work on them in any order you want.” Note, if they are a questioner/upholder type, that is all you have to say. However, if they are a questioner/rebel type then you may have to add, “I’ll bet you a cookie (sticker, free play, etc.) that you can’t get it all done by Friday.”
For the rebel types, you can help them keep up with deadlines by saying, “I’ll bet you a cookie (sticker, free play, etc.) that you can’t complete five pages of this project by the deadline.” They will need smaller chunks of the larger project with more encouragement.
For the obliger types, you can help them by checking in with them more often and making sure they have short-term due dates for the larger project. They will turn in their project on time but if you do not check in with them throughout the project, they may not give you their best work or they might not enjoy the project as much because they’ve waited until the last minute to complete it.
Let us know.
What personality type are you? What is the dominant personality type in your classroom? Add a comment below or let us know on Facebook or Twitter.
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Note From the Founder
Hello. I am the founder of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge Program.